Israel Tests Anti-Missile System for Passenger Planes

February 26, 2014  

The Defense Ministry announced Wednesday that Israel has successfully completed tests of a new missile defense system for commercial aircraft and plans to start fitting it to its passenger fleet, according to AFP

It said the automatic laser-based “SkyShield” system detects shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and also scrambles their guidance systems, rendering
them harmless.

“The tests, conducted in a test range in the south of Israel, were the most complex and sophisticated ever held in the state of Israel,” the ministry said
in a statement.

“The series of tests included a wide variety of threats that the SkyShield system would have to tackle in order to protect passenger aircraft.” It did not say when SkyShield would enter service.

Last August, the airport in the Israeli Red Sea resort town of Eilat was briefly closed over unspecified security concerns. 

The town next to Egypt’s troubled Sinai Peninsula has been the target of cross-border rocket attacks. 

Earlier this month, a rocket fired at the resort town was destroyed by an Iron Dome air defense battery deployed outside Eilat, an Israeli police spokeswoman said. Al Qaeda-inspired Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem) claimed responsibility for the attack. 

On January 20, another rocket claimed by the jihadist group struck the outskirts of the Israeli resort city without causing any casualties. In August, a rocket fired on Eilat from Egypt was intercepted by Iron Dome. It was claimed by a Salafist group based in Gaza, which also borders the Sinai.    

To combat the rocket fire, Israeli media said on Wednesday that SkyShield would be fitted to domestic flights going to Eilat as well as to international destinations.

In 2002, a flight of Israel’s Arkia airline with 261 passengers on board came under attack from two shoulder-fired missiles as it took off from Mombasa, Kenya. They narrowly missed their target.

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